Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India

  • India’s health ministry has confirmed 425,282 Covid-19 cases (174,387 active cases) and 13,699 fatalities. 14,821 fresh cases were recorded on Sunday. The Times of India, based on state figures, reported 426,397 confirmed cases, with 15,372 new cases.
  • Fatalities across the world are 468,331 (over 8.95 million infections).

The numbers are as of Monday, 12:30 pm IST. Check out the latest data here

Generics to make Covid bill lighter
Generics to make Covid bill lighter
  • The treatment cost for critical Covid-19 patients in India is expected to fall after two Indian drug makers launched their generic versions of Gilead’s Remdesivir. Hetero Labs and Cipla said their generics will be made available to hospitals this week; the two are among the five Indian companies that had signed a non-exclusive licence sharing agreement with Gilead to make and distribute the generic version of Remdesivir. The agreement is valid until the World Health Organisation declares the end of the pandemic or another drug is approved for treatment, whichever is earlier.
  • Hetero could price its generic, brand name Covifor, at around Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 a vial; Cipla, too, could price its version, Cipremi, around the same, reports the Economic Times. Until now, India had to import Remdesivir directly from Gilead; Maharashtra has an agreement to import a generic made by a Bangladesh-based drug maker but Gilead has not shared its licence with the firm. The prices could fall further as three more Indian drug makers — Jubilant, Zydus Cadila and Dr Reddy’s — are awaiting the approval of Indian drug regulator, the Drug Controller General of India, for their generics.
  • Though the generic is not cheap by Indian standards, an executive of one of the drugmakers, who wished to stay anonymous, said the drug will reduce the treatment time at hospital, and hence “the savings for patients are big”. “The drug pays for itself,” the executive said. The high cost of treatment of critical Covid-19 patients at private hospitals has been a sore point for authorities, with some states capping expenditures such as hospital room rent. The prices of drugs, protective equipment for doctors and nurses, and such, by and large, were not capped.
  • There is also the possibility that authorities could cap the price of the generic now that it is available in the domestic market. If not, state governments could buy them in bulk and distribute it to hospitals, lowering the actual cost borne by the patients. Earlier, Glenmark brought to the market the generic version of favipiravir — priced at Rs 103 a tablet — an antiviral drug used to mild Covid-19 patient.
  • Remdesivir, an antiviral drug first developed to fight Ebola virus — it proved ineffective — emerged as a promising treatment after a federal trial in the United States showed it could reduce the recovery time from 15 days to 11 days. India approved it for emergency use early in June.
Staying home in lockdown ups diabetes risk, says study
Staying home in lockdown ups diabetes risk, says study
  • The data: In a study published in the journal ‘Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews’, researchers have analysed clinical data from 100 non-diabetic individuals. They noticed weight gain trends in 40% of the subjects, with 16% of them now weighing 2.1 to 5 kg more. “This means they have 7% increased risk for diabetes or many of them have converted to diabetes and may not show symptoms,” says one of the co-authors of the study.
  • The risk: “Lack of exercise and improper diet caused by poor availability of healthy food may lead to significant weight gain. It is important to note that patients with Covid-19 and obesity are associated with worse in-hospital outcomes,” the study points out. Previous studies also state that mortality rates and ventilator requirements are increased in case of obese people diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • The subjects: Most of the participants were young, with 59% being under 40. A history of type 2 diabetes in relatives was also present in 61% of the sample. Only 38% of the individuals exercised for at least three days a week and 62% of them are in the risk group, the study states. More details here
Why number of tests doesn’t say the full story
Why number of tests doesn’t say the full story
  • The claim: The Tamil Nadu government says that it has been testing more samples than any other state. However, experts have criticised its strategy of drawing more samples in districts that record low Covid cases.
  • The tests: Going by the state government data, 12,530 tests per million were conducted in The Nilgiris as against 6,050 per million in Madurai district that has seen a gradual spike in the number of Covid-19 cases. In Theni district, which recorded 185 cases, for instance, 16,195 tests per million were conducted, while 13,265 samples were drawn per million in Kanyakumari that has 151 cases until June 19.
  • The risk: “If testing is done among people with symptoms, there is a chance of diagnosing 30% to 40% more Covid-19 cases. If it is not done properly, infected people will spread the infection to more people,” eminent virologist Dr Jacob John told TOI. More details here
Centre steps in to micro-manage Delhi’s Covid-19 cases
Centre steps in to micro-manage Delhi’s Covid-19 cases
  • India’s national capital isn’t just the battleground for the fight against a rising tide of Covid-19 cases but may also become a battleground for Centre-state politics. While the number of fresh cases on Sunday showed a drop vis-a-vis Saturday’s, the fact that Delhi has overtaken Tamil Nadu to become the second worst hit state in the country — with 59,746 cases — has prompted a home ministry appointed panel to call for a complete rejig of Delhi’s containment strategy against the novel coronavirus.
  • Among the measures to be adopted, the panel has called for a fresh demarcation of all containment zones in the national capital, a house-to-house check even outside of containment zones, conducting a serological survey of 20,000 Delhi residents and attaching every district in the capital with a major hospital. The measures were discussed during a meeting between the home ministry, led by home minister Amit Shah and the Delhi government, led by CM Arvind Kejriwal, with the LG Anil Baijal also present. Shah also asked the Delhi government to send details of each Covid-19 death in the city — such as when the patient was brought to the hospital, where did he/she reside, et al.
  • Each measure to be adopted has also been coupled with a deadline by which action needs to be taken — while the new containment plan will be finalised today, by tomorrow, the state government has to set up district-level teams while by Friday, the new containment zone demarcation needs to happen. By the end of this month, an exhaustive survey of the containment zones need to be finished and by July 6, for the rest of the city. The serological survey needs to be done between June 27 and July 10.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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